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Southern Theories for ICT4D

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This paper suggests that the dominance of northern research paradigms in ICT4D may be viewed as a continuation of colonial sway over the endeavors of the global South. The notion of Southern Theory - as introduced in the work of Raewyn Connell, the Comaroffs, and others - may be a route by which re-searchers in the global South can reclaim the intellectual territory of ICT4D, with indigenous and regional research paradigms and theories rather than those simply absorbed from the global North.

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Southern Theories for ICT4D

  1. 1. Southern Theories in ICT4D David Kreps and Julian M Bass University of Salford, Greater Manchester, UK IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 1
  2. 2. • Introduction • Theoretical Context • Southern Theories for ICT4D • Case Study – Cloud Adoption in sub-Saharan Africa • Conclusions Overview IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 2May 2019
  3. 3. • Three theoretical dimensions for ICT4D research – • Theories of technology • Theories of action, and • “Foundational theory that problematizes the notion of ‘development’” • Avgerou C.: Growth in ICT uptake in developing countries: new users, new uses, new challenges. Journal of Information Technology. 31, 329–333. (2016) p. 330 • We seek to contribute to debates on the latter Introduction IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 3May 2019
  4. 4. • Much ICT4D research • certain established paradigms, • rooted in “a distinct academic, US-centric, business school- oriented, private sector focus, interpretive research method, systems development bias” • Hirschheim, R., and Klein, H.: A Glorious and Not-So-Short History of the Information Systems Field. Journal of the Association for Information Systems 13(4) (2012) p190 • Walsham, G., Sahay, S.: Research on information systems in developing countries. Inf. Technol. Dev. 12(1), 7–24 (2006) • Gomez, R., Day, S.A.: Research questions, paradigms and methods in ICT for development. In: Hayes, N., La Rovere, R.L. (eds.) Into the Future, IFIP WG9.4, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, pp. 301– 317 (2013) Introduction IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 4May 2019
  5. 5. • Rich seams of philosophical tradition all over the world • Potential theoretical models • Fostering of what people living outside of the ‘developed’ world consider to be ‘success’ • Scopes and measures rooted in local context • Rather than handed down from former colonial or contemporary economic masters Introduction IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 5
  6. 6. • Introduction  Theoretical Context • Southern Theories for ICT4D • Case Study – Cloud Adoption in sub-Saharan Africa • Conclusions Overview IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 6May 2019
  7. 7. • Indigenously ‘southern theories’ • Idea originates in Fanon & Edward Said postcolonialism • Social and critical theories originating and reflecting the concerns of the global South - connectedness vs. individualism • Vandana Shiva - environmentalism, food sovereignty, biodiversity, indigenous knowledge, ‘seed freedom’ • Amartya Sen - capabilities and non-materialistic calculations of human welfare such as health and education, human freedoms wider than income, such as participation in political activities, and living to old age. Theoretical Context IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 7May 2019
  8. 8. • Introduction • Theoretical Context  Southern Theories for ICT4D • Case Study – Cloud Adoption in sub-Saharan Africa • Conclusions Overview IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 8May 2019
  9. 9. • Opportunity exists for ICT4D scholars to seek out and create theories rooted in southern values and philosophical paradigms • Prakash and De, critique the meaning of ‘development’ through reference to dependency theory • Bai, wonders if the global South has “become a playground for Western scholars in information and communication technologies for development,” Southern Theories for ICT4D IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 9
  10. 10. • Introduction • Theoretical Context • Southern Theories for ICT4D  Case Study – Cloud Adoption in sub-Saharan Africa • Conclusions Overview IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 10May 2019
  11. 11. • In the global North, the two issues of “security, privacy and trust,” and of “data loss” are considered impediments to cloud adoption • Our case study revealed that African SMEs are more concerned about local risks to security and data loss • Foreign providers are perceived to be more trustworthy • Cloud computing can be seen as the latest incarnation of colonisation and globalisation by powerful foreign commercial enterprises Cloud Adoption Case Study IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 11
  12. 12. • An alter-globalisation perspective might focus on “Surveillance Capitalism” • We see evidence of indigenous cloud service platforms emerging • Reduced costs of (market) entry, eliminates capital expenditure for start-ups and pay-as-you-go models allow self-funded growth • Indigenous cloud hosting has the potential to create opportunities for “southern” improvisation and digital innovation Cloud Adoption Case Study IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 12
  13. 13. • An alter-globalisation perspective on cloud adoption • Focus on the capabilities approach features being displayed, • Rather than, say, to maximising shareholder value for northern corporates Cloud Adoption Case Study IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 13
  14. 14. • Introduction • Theoretical Context • Southern Theories for ICT4D • Case Study – Cloud Adoption in sub-Saharan Africa  Conclusions Overview IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 14May 2019
  15. 15. • The power of the West is in decline, • China and India are new economic powers heralding a newly ‘multipolar’ world • Africa: a large part of coming global population growth • We encourage ICT4D researchers to look further for methodological paradigms, theoretical lenses, and philosophical approaches • We promote ‘southern theories’ an indigenous sociology Conclusions IFIP WG9.4 Tanzania 15May 2019

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